Over 5000 names of communities are engraved on the 107 stone walls in the Valley of the Communities, a total of over 100,000 Hebrew and Latin letters.
Graphic artist David Grossman:
“We developed a form of lettering based on ancient Hebrew engravings over 2000 years old. These letters were surprisingly similar to modern forms; in fact, they seemed to be more modern than those we had seen on gravestones in Europe. For the Latin characters, we chose classical and neutral letters.
These names are signatures inscribed on stone for future generations; a historical testimony. We tried to find a particular position for each name. A small, special place for each so that no community would be overshadowed by another; each community was after all a separate world. We took great care that the names wouldn’t appear in straight columns like a telephone book; instead they are scattered to emphasize their individuality.”
The names that appear in Hebrew characters are those commonly used by the Jews themselves whereas those written in Latin characters are the versions popular with the non-Jews on the eve of the Second World War. The different font sizes used provide an indication to the different sizes of the Jewish communities.